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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Francesco [Blu-ray]


(Liliana Cavani, 1989)




Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Karol Film 

Video: Film Movement



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:13:18.448 

Disc Size: 44,494,981,524 bytes

Feature Size: 40,402,335,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.00 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: September 1st, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3073 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3073 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)






• Cannes Film Festival Conference (4:15)

Theatrical Trailers (Francesco - 1:48) and others by Film Movement

16-page booklet with color photos, essays by Liliana Cavani and critic Aaron Hills and credits





Description: Based on Francis of Assisi by Herman Hesse, FRANCESCO depicts the life and times of St. Francis of Assisi and the rise of the Franciscan order that he founded. Following his death, his devoted followers recall the life of Francesco and chart his transformation from the pampered son of an aristocrat into a selfless man of faith devoted wholly to a life of apostolic poverty. Directed by Italian auteur Liliana Cavani (The Night Porter), and starring Academy Award-nominees Mickey Rourke as Saint Francis of Assisi, and Helena Bonham Carter as Saint Claire, Francesco paints an intimate portrait of one of the most beloved, influential and complex figures in the history of religion and civilization.



The Film: Told in flashback, the film relates Francis of Assisi's evolution from rich man's son to religious humanitarian and eventually to full-fledged saint. Francesco was based on Hermann Hesse's Francis of Assisi, which director Liliana Cavani had previously filmed in 1966. The Saint and founder of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor is played by Mickey Rourke, and his inspiration, the woman who later became Saint Clare, is played by Helena Bonham Carter. Raised as the pampered son of a merchant, Francis goes off to war only to return with a profound horror for the society which generated such suffering. In one scene, as an act of renunciation, he strips himself of his fine clothing in front of his father and leaves the house naked and barefoot, joining the lepers and beggars in the poor section of town. The film follows with a series of episodes from the saint's life rather than a coherent narrative, following up until his final days when he receives the stigmata, or wounds similar to those on the body of Jesus at the crucifixion.

Excerp from MRQE located HERE


Europe is entering its Berlitz era of movie making. Language in the form of demotic speech is at the barricades.

''Francesco,'' Liliana Cavani's new film about the life of St. Francis of Assisi, won no awards at the recent Cannes International Film Festival, but it will not be soon forgotten by anyone who squirmed through even the smallest, dizziest portion of it.

Though ''Francesco'' was made in Italy and is Italian, and though the supporting roles are played by Italians, it was shot in English with Mickey Rourke, the American actor (''Barfly''), in the title role and Helena Bonham Carter, the tiny, pouty-faced English actress, as Claire, the young woman who followed Francis to eventual sainthood.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Francesco is transferred to a dual-layered Blu-ray with a high bitrate, via Film Movement. The 2 1/4 hour feature is one of five different version/running times. This is considered the 'International version' - the second longest after the Italian cut which is about another 22-minutes longer. But this is longer than we have seen in North America. This is in 1080P and in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It looks a bit thin and flat and you can see high-frequency edge-enhancement halos in a couple of spots if you zoom in (SEE HERE and below). The presentation isn't overly affected by this (depending on your sensitivity to it) and colors have a rich edge, there appears to be texture - and detail is respectable if not crystal clear. I saw minor background noise. This Blu-ray, gave me a an imperfect, presentation but the flaws were less-noticeable in-motion.












Edge-enhancement halos











Audio :

Film Movement give the option of a linear PCM 2.0 track at 2304 kbps or a more robust DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 3073 kbps (both 24-bit) in the original English language. I only noted a few surround instances but the audio would be memorable for the score by Vangelis (Alexander, Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire etc.) and this certainly adds some flavor to the viewing experience if more subtle than we have experienced previously from the composer. It sounds quite rich with his synthy-epic-feel in the lossless. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.


Extras :

Not too much - the brief, unsubtitled, Cannes Film Festival Conference with principals and a bunch of 'Film Movement product' theatrical trailers including one for Francesco. No discussion which the film may warrant, but there is a 16-page booklet with photos, and essays by Liliana Cavani and critic Aaron Hills (Brooklyn Magazine).



Yes, Francesco is a very interesting... oddity. I was pleased to see this in the longer (if not longest) cut and appreciate Helena Bonham Carter's performance along with the overly-discussed one by Mickey Rourke. Seeing it in 1080P does bring out some further questions and answers. It's an intriguing religious epic (or pseudo-epic) - one, surely worth revisiting as time progresses.  The Film Movement Blu-ray could have included more extras but there is still plenty of value, even with the visual weakness, IMO.

Gary Tooze

September 16th, 2015



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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